Rejecting Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill introducing new conditions to U.S. aid to Israel
Recently, Rep Summer Lee (D-PA) co-sponsored a bill introduced by CongresswomanBetty McCollum (D-MN) which was theoretically meant to address serious human rightsallegations against Israel and ensure that no U.S. assistance dollars are used to perpetuatethose alleged crimes (“Summer Lee cosponsors bill that would restrict aid to Israel,” May 12). Israel, like all democracies, faces difficult dilemmas in balancing security versus democratic concerns. While facing a complex security situation unparalleled to other democracies, the Israeli government and legal system make every effort to prioritize democratic considerations at every step along the way. Israel is indeed imperfect, but it does an exceptional job managing this delicate balancing act.
There are several serious problems with the McCollum bill that should give pause to anyone who supports Israel’s right to self-defense, including dozens of misleading, unsubstantiated allegations against Israel made in the bill without providing any sense of context or proportion. For example, the bill alleges that 500-700 Palestinian children are detained each year by the Israeli military, without noting that is among the lowest rates of juvenile incarceration in the world, and without addressing the fact that, sadly, these children are often the perpetrators of violent terror attacks. Recent examples include a January terror attack in which a 13-year-old Palestinian opened fire on a group of Israelis resulting in multiple serious injuries, and a February terror attack in which a 13-year-old Palestinian stabbed and killed an Israeli Border Police officer. Palestinian teenagers are routinely recruited by terrorist organizations which publicize the teenagers’ membership if they are killed while committing terror attacks.
The bill also says the Israeli military court system “lacks basic and fundamental guarantees of due process” which is blatantly untrue, and makes no mention of the extensive reforms Israel has undertaken in recent years to improve its system of juvenile justice in the West Bank.
As the bill itself notes, there already exists a large body of laws governing how U.S. assistance can and cannot be spent, and as with all foreign aid, the U.S. government has an extensive system in place to ensure that those laws are followed and are in line with the “legitimate self-defense criteria” set by the U.S. government. Over the many years that the U.S. has been providing military assistance to Israel, there have been no credible charges that Israel has in fact been using U.S. funds to commit the “crimes” alleged in the bill or in any other way inconsistent with U.S. law.
Calling to restrict U.S. funds for these purposes has nothing to do with “good government” or “transparency.” It is solely about using security assistance to score political points against Israel, and sets the stage for future cuts in aid while creating an overly broad certification requirement that would be impossible for any administration to meet.
Deterrent effect of death penalty is unknown
In response to the letter “Jewish law prohibits imposition of the death penalty if it does not deter” (May 19), which states there is no evidence that the death penalty deters murder, there are a few points I would like to raise:
1. The writer simply makes a blanket statement that death penalty states “do not show any reduction in the number of murders per capita.” No statistical evidence is given to back up this assertion.
2. How do you determine the number of potential murderers who are deterred from their crimes by their fear that capture will lead to their own death? The Pittsburgh synagogue shooter did not take his own life.
3. The very nature of the crime at the Tree of Life building and the fact that the shooter had a social media presence suggests there might be a community of haters paying attention to the resolution of this case. There is no way to know how many would-be shooters might be deterred if they knew a death penalty conviction was a possibility.
4. Finally, think of the survivors, the friends and families of the victims. Their loved ones were gunned down in the most heinous way. They will never get to see another sunset. Why should the shooter, if convicted, be allowed to enjoy life when he showed such callous disregard for the lives of his victims?
J Street’s actions contradict its ‘pro-Israel’ label
In the Chronicle’s May 19 issue, a letter from members of J Street explains their support for Congresswomen Summer Lee’s cosponsoring of a bill that would place restrictions on aid to Israel (“Clarification on bill cosponsored by Summer Lee”). J Street defines itself as pro-Israel and as an advocate for a two-state solution. One has to ask: Who is the peace partner? Hamas or the Palestinian Authority dictatorship? J Street boasts about its support for the pro-democracy movement in Israel but doesn’t seem as vocal when it comes to the terrorist-led regimes in Gaza and the lack of elections in Ramallah.
In their letter the writers state, “Like all U.S. aid, our taxpayer money should be accounted for and should not be used in ways that undermine U.S. interests.” They also call for transparent accounting of how funds are spent. I do not recall J street demanding the same accounting of how funds are spent by the PA. Stipends are paid to PA terrorists and their families for their violent actions, which sometimes include the death and injury of Americans.
J Street too often points a finger at Israel, especially with its current government, but rarely utters a word about the human rights violations and lack of democracy in Gaza or the West Bank. I suppose J Street will blame Israel for that, as the organization appears to be one-sided — and not “pro-Israel.”